/ Travel & Leisure

Let the holiday hard-sell commence!

Plane with vapour trail spelling out 'sale'

Once the Christmas spending splurge is over, the last thing I want to do is to buy another big ticket item like a holiday. But travel companies want us to start buying holidays as soon as Santa’s finished his rounds.

Some of this year’s holiday advertising campaigns started the week before Christmas.

After Christmas Day, the television travel ads became inescapable. Watching the second part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy on Boxing Day, no fewer than six adverts urged me to get my 2013 holiday booked.

Take a break

Hotwire.com wanted me to use its website to grab a bargain hotel. Virgin Holidays had a saucy ad urging me to book by the end of January to take advantage of everything that it had ‘taken off’ in its sale. First Choice had apparently adapted Flo-rida’s ‘Good Feeling’ hit to convince me booking an all-inclusive holiday would turn me into a rock star.

Center Parcs seemed to want me to hand over my cash to them so my children would have memories more valuable than inheriting a house. P&O suggested I could turn my friends insane with jealousy by booking a week-long cruise from £599. The US state of California showcased its beaches, mountains and wilderness and urged me to get ‘out there’. And finally Kuoni plugged its special occasion holidays with a campaign targeting honeymooners and anyone with a big birthday coming up.

Big offers from the ‘big two’

All that was missing were the ‘big two’ brands, Thomas Cook and Thomson. But they had been all over other TV advert breaks. Since Christmas Day, Thomas Cook’s quirky ad has been suggesting its holidays are so good you’ll be prepared to sabotage one of its coaches so you can’t get home. It’s also promising 10% off all holidays to the end of January.

Thomson has gone a bit more upmarket, promoting how its holidays have changed from the early days of package tourism to exclusive experiences designed around individual consumers. Thomson, and its sister company First Choice, also drop in at the end of their ads that their holidays are Atol protected.

Look before you book

They were the only ads from holiday companies I’ve seen promoting Atol, which is no real surprise as it’s hardly a sexy advertising sell. But for people who are persuaded to book a holiday in January, it can be vital.

If you’re handing over money now for a trip you’ll take in several months’ time, what happens to your cash if a company involved goes bust in the meantime?  Atol is one way of making sure you get that money back.

Atol has its own video and online advertising campaign that started on Boxing Day. It’s not as high profile as the holiday companies’ ads, but it’s worth taking a look before you book.

I’m highly unlikely to book a holiday in January, partly because I want to assess the Christmas damage to my bank account before I commit to more spending, but also because I’m extremely sceptical of the ‘sales’ and offers pushed out now to get people buying. I’m never convinced that a holiday that is discounted now won’t appear at the same price or cheaper later.

Have the Christmas holiday ads persuaded you to book a trip or are you biding your time? Does financial protection for holidays matter to you?

Have you already booked your summer holiday?

No, it's far too early to book a summer holiday! (37%, 53 Votes)

Other (26%, 38 Votes)

Yes (17%, 25 Votes)

No, I don't have room in my budget for a holiday (16%, 23 Votes)

No, I don't fancy a summer holiday (3%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 147

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